West Ham legend Alan Devonshire confirmed as Braintree Town manager

ALAN Devonshire has been confirmed as the man to lead Braintree Town into Conference football for the first time in their history.

The former West Ham and England midfielder, who quit as manager of Hampton & Richmond Borough at the weekend, beat off more than 100 applicants for the job.

Although the announcement was delayed, the Irons opted for the ex-Hammer, who made more than 350 appearances at the Upton Park club during the late 1970s and 1980s.

Town’s plans for life in the fifth tier of the football pyramid were thrown into turmoil when manager Rod Stringer quit just weeks after the club celebrated the Blue Square Bet South championship.

But chairman Lee Harding has acted swiftly to find Stringer’s replacement with the Essex club being inundated with applications.

Speaking before the weekend, Harding said: “We’ve had over 100 applications, from schoolboys successful on computer games to those currently managing in the Football League.

“We’ve now selected our shortlist and interviews are underway. But given the interest and time the interviews have taken, we now hope to announce the new appointment on Monday.”

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Devonshire, 55, beat off competition from fellow West Ham legend Julian Dicks who left Ryman League Club Grays Athletic three weeks ago.

In his eight years at Hampton he led them to Conference South promotion before suffering play-off final heartache twice in consecutive seasons as promotion to the Blue Square Bet League proved just beyond them.

They finished 17th in the Blue Square Bet South this season as Braintree raced away with the league, winning by seven points to clinch promotion.

Speaking yesterday, Hampton secretary Nick Hornsey said: “Alan took us from strength-to-strength for the first six years and then managed us to survival for the last two seasons.

“He is a very genuine and honest person who likes playing good football and was idolised by the fans. He will be missed and we wish him all the best for the future.”

A wide midfielder, Devonshire collected an FA Cup winner’s medal in 1980 and gained eight caps for England before seeing out his playing career at Watford.

Starting his management career with Maidenhead United, Devonshire was then in charge at Hampton for more than 400 games.

The decision to name him as manager was delayed after he demanded more time to allow him to break the news to his previous club.

IS he the right man for the job? E-mail us at nick.thompson@archant.co.uk.